The Bench, the Tablet, and the Descriptive Heading

The judges we appear before, and importantly who receive our written work, are likely to use tablets for reading our briefs. Does this mean we should alter our approach to writing briefs? From what I’ve heard, the answer is “yes.” Most judges agree it is harder to understand an argument when read on a screen instead of paper. Fortunately, there are simple techniques to make our arguments easier to understand, even when read on an iPad.

Keeping track of arguments

Judges often remark that when reading a document in electronic form, they often lose track of where a specific argument fits within the overall argument, as well as where the particular argument is supposed to be going. Part of the problem is that it’s harder for the reader to move around inside an electronic document than a paper document, which makes it difficult for the reader to look back to see how a specific point fits within the larger argument.

Judges want descriptive headings

Judges suggest liberally using descriptive headings. Judges find that frequent headings provide useful guideposts that assist with understanding and following an argument’s progression. Think of it like driving at night down an unfamiliar road. Although you might think you know where you are and where you’re going, the occasional route marker provides welcome confirmation of the direction you’re headed.

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